Mamie's Place changes

In an effort to adapt to how children learn, Mamie’s Place Children’s Library is making changes. The library added hands-on lessons such as educational kits and activities, a telescope and incorporating music into story time.

“We have a lot more than just books on our shelves now,” library assistant Chelsea Lloyd said. “We’re trying to find ways to meet different interests because those change with time.”

Brainy Boxes, a new addition to the library, are themed kits containing educational books and matching hands-on activities to go with them, such as geology and oceans. There is a bird watching box which contains a book on the activity, binoculars, flashcards and model birds. 

According to Lloyd, a former co-worker came up with Brainy Boxes after seeing something similar at another library. Lloyd likes getting children outside and said she drew inspiration from Fred Rogers, who said playtime is serious learning for children.

“Education and learning can be fun,” Lloyd said. “It can be hands-on. It doesn’t just have to be sit at your desk and do a worksheet.”

The boxes were created about four months ago and the library is working on other themes such as dinosaurs and insects. 

The Breakout Box, is another educational tool incorporated at the library and is full of codes, locks and requires downloaded activities. Alexander City Middle School requested the library to make the box and it is almost always checked out, according to librarian Melissa Ellison.

Both Brainy Boxes and the Breakout Box can be checked out for three weeks.

The library added a telescope for check out and is working on getting a microscope for families who can’t purchase them.

“We try to utilize the resources we have to provide for the families in the community, things that will help them with their school work,” Lloyd said.

The library also recently added songs and activities to story time get children focused, according to librarian Melissa Finley. Story time, which is at 10 a.m. each Wednesday, starts with a song and goes into the reading before taking a break for an activity, such as singing “Old McDonald had a Farm,” reading the book “Hogwash” and making little pigs.

The library is hoping to add story time videos to its website once a month, according to Finley.

Erin Fletcher took her two children Wyatt and Lena to Mamie’s Place on Thursday and said the library is good resource to have for the local children. 

“It’s definitely something I should take more advantage of,” Fletcher said.

Lloyd is also hoping to add story time on Saturdays. When she works at the library on the weekend she puts out crafts and coloring activities for families to work on together. 

Lloyd said the library is a great resource for homeschooled children.

“It’s really for families to get together, spend time together, learn together and unplug a little bit,” Lloyd said.

The children’s library gets visitors after school and students use the computers and printers and look for books for the Accelerated Reading program. Board games and puzzles are available on Thursdays.

Parents let their children enter the library alone and check out books, Finley said. The library is a place where children cannot be shushed and can spend a lot of time.

“They feel like it is a place just for them,” Finley said. “That’s why we try to have really bright colors and make them feel like children are welcome.”

In addition to adding to the children’s library, Adelia M. Russell Library is hosting American Sign Language classes next month.